OnePlus just a few hours ago launched their new OnePlus X mid-range smartphone with a new invite system in place. Those who want to get their hands on the affordable, yet premium device, should hurry up and register on the OnePlus website to receive an invite. The OnePlus X is a mid-range smartphone launched as an attempt from the Chinese start-up to popularize their design in the affordable smartphone industry. The OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 are both budget-friendly flagship smartphones, but the OnePlus X is the first mid-range smartphone that the company launched. Specs aside, the OnePlus X release coincides with the launch of a new design aesthetic for the company that goes after the premium build quality craze that has taken over consumers. HTC launched their brand new HTC One A9 in a similar fashion, but the Taiwanese company’s idea of premium is very different from OnePlus’ idea.
While the HTC One A9 comes off as a rip-off of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S, the OnePlus X has a couple of design elements that provide it with uniqueness, to a certain degree. Unfortunately, neither of these mid-rangers bring anything innovative to the table when it comes to design, but they both stand as milestones for each company’s design language history. Truth be told, HTC was the pioneer of antennae lines, but going back to that design and reflecting so much of Apple’s design aesthetic in a phone that’s nowhere near as premium as the iPhone or many Android phones, for that matter, is something HTC should have thought about twice.
HTC fans were already disappointed with the company’s last few devices in the One family, accusing HTC of ignoring international fans with the One M9+ and giving them a sub-par experience instead with the One M9. The situation changes with the HTC One A9, although not necessarily for the better. In a crowded market filled with affordable smartphones, a $500 mid-ranger that mimics Apple but is not Apple might not have been a good choice. Nonetheless, HTC did some good things with the One A9. The OnePlus X, however, is an entirely different story.
While the One A9 came out of nowhere with a couple of people talking about it before launch, the OnePlus X was widely anticipated. Even though mid-rangers usually don’t excite the Android community that much, the OnePlus X release date was one of the most popular topics in forums and discussion panels. That’s because OnePlus has made a reputation for itself with its affordable, yet high-quality flagship smartphones so everyone was expecting a phone with a massive bang for the buck in the OnePlus X. Fortunately, that’s exactly what the company did with this mid-ranger.
Priced at $250, the OnePlus X takes on a wide array of phones in its price range that have specs much inferior to the ones this phone has to boast with. It goes up against smartphones like the Moto G 3rd generation, Samsung Galaxy A line-up, LG’s mid-range line-up and HTC’s Desire line-up as well as its One line-up of devices. That’s a lot of competition the phone needs to face, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. If we were to consider all the entry-level and mid-range smartphones that cost between $200 and $300, we would be here all week, figuring out bang for the buck for each.
The OnePlus X is a unique launch that tries to take the design elements that were loved by the Android community this year and blending them together in an easy-to-use form factor. With a shrunken size compared to other smartphones from the company, the OnePlus X is the OnePlus Compact of flagship killers. With glass paneling all over, the handset is reminiscent of Sony’s Xperia Z3 line-up, but is not as awesome as the Xperia Z5 family. The glass paneling is a fingerprint magnet, and while that’s definitely not a deal-breaker, some might have preferred a matte glass or frosted glass similar to the panel of the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact.
Nonetheless, the glossy panel looks seamless and offers the OnePlus X design the element of industrial design that seems to be so popular with smartphone manufacturers nowadays. With a heavy body, the OnePlus X looks and feels premium. Helped by the metal design and by the option of a ceramic back panel, those interested in this phone should definitely weigh their options and choose the design that is fit for their use patterns. The ceramic back panel might be a bit more fragile, although OnePlus did assure fans that the OnePlus X construction is durable and will not break or scratch that easily. Although it sports a similar AMOLED panel to the Motorola Droid Turbo 2, it doesn’t feature shatterproof technology, so this one is not made for concrete.
The chamfered edges and bezels aspect of the OnePlus X truly make it look like a premium smartphone that can be comparable to Apple’s new iPhones. When it comes to the sides and ports of the device, OnePlus added a couple of features for maneuverability. The volume rocker and power button have a polished texture made out of metal and the handset comes with a tray for two SIM cards, one of which doubles as a microSD card slot, which means the OnePlus X is privy for storage expansion.
Although a bit heavy compared to flagship devices of this year at 160 grams, it’s on par with the Motorola Moto G 3rd gen which weighs 155 grams. With a 5-inch FHD 1080*1920 AMOLED display, the OnePlus X aims to offer a stunning viewing experience in a small footprint that will be comfortable for most people. Although phablets seem to be a bit more popular than regular smartphones, OnePlus’ mid-ranger cuts costs with a smaller screen but still manages to make the handset appealing with the great resolution that it boasts with. Gorilla Glass 3 is there to protect the front of the device, and the back of the glass variant, but it’s not there on the ceramic version of the handset. The ceramic version is not available yet and it will also be a limited edition device with a higher price tag of $400. The ceramic OnePlus X will be exclusive to European customers, though, so there’s little hope of U.S. fans to get it.
The OnePlus X is more appealing from a design aspect than the specs aspect, but that doesn’t mean the company went with cheap options. There’s a Snapdragon 801 CPU on board, backed by 3 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage, Android 5.1 Lollipop with OxygenOS on top and a 2525 mAh battery providing the juice. A 13 MP camera with autofocus and flash is on the rear of the device, while the front comes with an 8 MP shooter. The camera setup hasn’t been thoroughly tested yet, but OnePlus says the performance and results it will provide users with will be on par with the OnePlus One, which had almost the same camera setup that made for rather impressive photography experiences.
Essentially, the OnePlus X is the experimental version of the OnePlus One. With an Onyx name tag next to the OnePlus X name, the handset is a premium version of the original flagship killer with an improved design, better front camera, smaller screen and battery and the same processing power, for a cheaper price. The OnePlus X is going to be available only through invites in the first month, but starting December, people will be able to buy it without invites through open flash sales that will be held weekly and daily by the company. Although there are rumors about the OnePlus X being just as limited as the ceramic variant, sources tell us there are plenty of OnePlus X devices waiting to get in your hands.
Moving on to the HTC One A9, the first thing that we notice about its design is that it’s pretty good. Although it’s a copy-cat phone and that trait is definitely not appreciated by Android fans who feel mocked, the build quality, aesthetics and feel in the hand are on par with Apple’s hardware, and that’s saying a lot. Even though HTC’s One A9 is not the hit the company wanted it to be, we have to admit that the design is truly comfortable and easy to use, doing away with the harsh lines of the One M9 and replacing them with curved 2.5d glass and chamfered edges. The only thing about its aesthetics that is a tragedy is the speakers – they’re exactly like the ones on Apple devices. It’s not that they don’t look good, it’s that they’re not BoomSound speakers. Mistake, HTC, big mistake. I’m sure all of the people interested in the One A9 would have preferred to have BoomSound speakers. Tss.
The fingerprint sensor on the HTC One A9 is a significant upgrade, because it works much better than the fingerprint sensor on the One M9 + and it’s on par with Apple’s Touch ID. The OnePlus X doesn’t have biometric security built-in, which is a bummer, since that would have been a great feature to add to such an affordable and premium smartphone. However, adding a fingerprint sensor would have brought the cost of the phone up, so it was probably a trade-off in the face of the design elements. Nonetheless, I’m sure that OnePlus could have made a few tweaks and included a fingerprint sensor in the OnePlus X.Since it’s an experimental device, as the company points out, there might be another variant sporting the missing sensor in the future.
The HTC One A9 looks and feels great in the hand, but it is a bit larger than the OnePlus X. It’s a bit lighter though, weighing about 138 grams. The metal unibody of the device feels like the one on the fan-favorite HTC One M8, adding the smooth antennae lines and rounded edges for extra effect and comfort. With a 5-inch FHD AMOLED display, viewing experience will be the same on the OnePlus X as on the One A9. The One A9 has a more advanced version of protection in the form of Gorilla Glass 4, so if you’re a clumsy person, you might want to consider this difference when deciding.
The camera of the HTC One A9 is comprised of a 13 MP camera on the rear with dual-tone flash and optical image stabilization and a 4 MP camera up front. That setup is a bit better than the OnePlus X camera, which lacks optical image stabilization and has only a single-tone flash. The One A9 camera performance and results will most likely be more impressive than those of the OnePlus X, given that HTC resolved the post-processing issues that made even the One M9 camera seem sub-par on occasion.
Under the hood, the One A9 lags a bit behind the OnePlus X with its Snapdragon 617 chipset, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage on the base model. The 32 GB HTC One A9 gets 3 GB RAM, but runs on the same processor and is backed by the same 2150 mAh battery unit. Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Sense UI is the advantage, seeing as the OnePlus X only gets Android 5.1.1 Lollipop for the time being. The Snapdragon 617 is an entirely new chipset from the Snapdragon family, but it’s a mid-range SoC that is below the Snapdragon 801 when it comes to performance. The extra storage space and the newer OS are bonuses for the One A9, but are they enough?
The HTC One A9 comes with fast charging, which is a feature missing from the OnePlus X, unfortunately. Fast charging is an important feature nowadays with everyone on the run and we had hoped OnePlus would include it in the Onyx. The A9 holds this atop OnePlus’ mid-ranger, but since neither of these devices have been thoroughly tested to find out what kind of autonomy they can provide users with, I’m going to withhold judgment in this department.
The One A9 price is $400 this month, but it will soon rise to $500 unlocked for the 16 GB variant. The OnePlus X price is $250 unlocked and it won’t change anytime soon. The invite system is a problem, but seeing as the company will be holding open sales next month, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. As a conclusion, the OnePlus X, for half the price of the HTC One A9 sounds like a better option for users who want performance and style at the same time. The One A9 is a good fit for those who want more storage, a slightly better camera, fast charging and premium design. The price difference between the two phones is warranted, but the HTC One A9 does seem a little overpriced for what it has to offer. We will be back with a more in-depth comparison once we get a chance to test autonomy, performance and camera quality on the OnePlus X and HTC One A9.
4 Most Interesting Crossovers in Gaming
Gaming crossovers are a great way to bring in new people and drive up interest in a title. With that being said, crossovers aren’t as rare as they once were. More and more gaming companies are now embracing crossovers, to the point that some may say that it has lost its appeal. And while this is true to some degree, there are still crossovers that are really effective when it comes to adding a whole new dimension to a game. To prove our point, we’ve put together a list of five of the most interesting crossovers.
Forza Horizon 4: Halo
Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the Forza series. The Forza series is known for its ability to emulate realistic racing conditions and offer accurate representations of real-world cars. And while they’ve partnered with car manufacturers before, Forza Horizon 4 features one of the most interesting collaborations in the entire series.
For a series that prides itself on realistic racing, Forza also knows when to cut loose and have a little fun. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Halo crossover that features Master Chief and the iconic Warthog.
Fortnite: Travis Scott
Fortnite is no stranger to crossovers. But if we had to pick one as the most interesting it would have to be the Travis Scott concert. Not only did this crossover include custom skins and emotes but it also paved the way for one of the most unique digital experiences of 2020.
The Verge’s article on the Travis Scott crossover details that the crossover included an interactive digital concert that turned the Fortnite island into a music stage. What’s great about this crossover is that it hints towards a future wherein music and video games will be working hand in hand to deliver immersive musical experiences to millions of people from all over the world.
Merge Dragons: Rick and Morty
When you think of the popular TV show Rick and Morty, a fantasy puzzle game isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. This is what makes this Rick and Morty crossover so interesting. The sheer absurdity of this crossover shows what gaming collaborations can achieve when one thinks outside the box. The game features original dialogue spoken by the characters that matches their characteristics from the show. It is a fun addition to the puzzle game.
However, this crossover shouldn’t be too surprising as Rick and Morty have appeared in other games, demonstrating how they have become pop culture icons. The comic nature of the duo makes them perfect for every type of genre, including slot games. Foxy Bingo’s pop cultured-themed slots include an official Rick and Morty game that features the iconic imagery and characters from the show. The show has also produced its own game in the form of the Pokémon-clone Pocket Mortys. One thing that all of these games have in common is that they maintain the show’s penchant for fun and wacky adventures. This is seen in Merge Dragons with the exclusive cow-dragon hybrid featured in the crossover event.
Mortal Kombat 11: Rambo
While crossovers in fighting games aren’t exactly new, Mortal Kombat has always had a knack for creating interesting crossovers for their iconic fighting game. One way that they’ve done this is with the inclusion of popular film characters. The franchise has had everyone from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Jason of the Friday the 13th franchise appear in their games.
However, the latest iteration of the game may have topped all of the previous crossovers. This is because Mortal Kombat 11 features John Rambo of the legendary Rambo franchise as one of its available fighters. To add to this, CNet’s article on Mortal Kombat 11 details that Sylvester Stallone voiced the digital John Rambo. This is certainly a treat for fans of the popular action film franchise, as they can finally play as one of the most influential action heroes of all time.
Loot Crate vs. The Curiosity Box: A Beginner’s Guide to Subscription Mystery Boxes
With all the loot box shenanigans we’ve witnessed this year, you might have, while searching for more information, accidentally stumbled across something by the name of Loot Crate. Unlike the reviled loot boxes, Loot Crate isn’t a digital gambling scam. Instead, Loot Crate is a physical, subscription-based mystery box you receive in the mail that contains a bevy of geek-related material. Moreover, Loot Crate isn’t the only available service. Alongside the vanilla Loot Crate Classic, the Loot Crate company supplies geeks with anime-themed items with Loot Anime, gaming swag with Loot Gaming (Loot Crate also sells Halo, Minecraft, Fallout, Call of Duty, and Destiny 2 themed boxes), and film/TV merchandise with Harry Potter, Firefly, Marvel, and Star Trek themed boxes. Loot Crate also has a rival in the form of Geek Fuel, which is more expensive than Loot Crate Classic but contains more (and more expensive) merchandise. While I don’t have a Geek Fuel box to compare to a Loot Crate, I received a different subscription box for Christmas, The Curiosity Box. This mystery box is a joint venture between the company behind Geek Fuel and the YouTube Channel VSauce, which is admittedly cool. So, without further ado, let’s get into what sets apart a Loot Crate from a Curiosity Box and determine which is right for you.
WHAT’S THE SAME
On the surface, Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box seem similar. They arrive in big cardboard boxes and contain random items. Well, not precisely random; each box focuses on a different theme, and the items provided center around that theme. While a lot of geeks subscribe to these boxes for various bits of swag, perhaps the biggest draw is the exclusives. The companies behind these subscription services make deals with other firms to create unique pieces of merchandise that are literally impossible to find anywhere else, aftermarket/marked up eBay sales notwithstanding. Some of these exclusives are just color variants of readily available products, such as a glow in the dark Funko POP Groot figure and orange Quantum Mechanix Tribble.
Most exclusives, however, aren’t available elsewhere in any other form and include items like the The Walking Dead art print, the Yeti temporary tattoo, the tower of magnetic rings, and “collectible” pins.
Furthermore, while most exclusives are decorative, some are practical items, such as a pen shaped like the Sledge Saw from Dead Rising 3 and light-up beverage coasters with periodic symbols.
Finally, these subscription boxes have some of the most awesome, exclusive, geeky shirts this side of ThinkGeek or Hot Topic.
The exclusive items tend to be the best pieces of merchandise in each box and are usually worth the price of the subscription alone. Usually.
Let’s get this out of the way: the most obvious differences are the prices and subscription models. Loot Crate Classic is about $20 per box and comes once a month, while The Curiosity Box is well over $50 and arrives once every three months. More importantly, these boxes are designed for two completely different audiences. The Loot Crate (and likely by extension Geek Fuel) is aimed primarily at adults or older teenagers and provides geek-related decorations and practical items, such as the Dead Rising 3 pen, Star Wars and Deadpool fridge magnets, and a Mega Man car air freshener.
Also, Loot Crate tends to include non-exclusive products that are part of a series. Case in point, during my brief stint with Loot Crate, I received (among other things) a Kidrobot Glow in the Dark Ooze Action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle vinyl figure and a Funko ReAction Alien figure. I got Donatello and the titular Alien, respectively, but I easily could have found Leonardo or Ripley in my Loot Crate subscriptions instead. However, since The Curiosity Box is almost exclusively made up of exclusive items, there is no element of randomness and everyone receives the same merchandise.
While Loot Crate caters to the video game, movies, comics, television, and everything pop-culture side of geekdom, The Curiosity Box is more science oriented and is designed for the family. For example, parents who bought the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box got to enjoy a t-shirt, a set of periodic table beverage coasters, a magnetic ring tower, a t-shirt, and a Nikola Tesla (as a sloth) enamel pin, while children will have fun with a temporary tattoo, a unique embroidered sticker patch, a solar system wall decal and poster set, a mobile microscope, and a castle cross-sections book. Finally, the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box came with the Universe Sandbox 2 Steam game, which is fun for all ages.
Since each Loot Crate and Curiosity Box contains new themes and items, you might find the contents of one particular box more to your liking than another. For example, one Curiosity Box contained a “grow your own glow in the dark crystals” kit, while another included a plush of The Curiosity Box’s mascot, the orange octopus Inq. Meanwhile, past Loot Crates have contained a Batman mug, a Doom Marine Funko POP figure, and the One-Punch Man manga.
While I only have personal experience with Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box, they are not your only options for subscription boxes. Geek Fuel is another decent mystery box, and it has come with its fair share of good products, including a South Park: The Fractured But Whole shirt, a Loony Toons Kidrobot blind box vinyl figure, and an exclusive Legend of Zelda pixel sword power bank. While I cannot recommend the Loot Crate, Curiosity Box, or Geek Fuel (or other) subscription boxes enough, you should research each to know what you should expect from these services. Sure, you technically can’t know what to expect since each box is supposed to be a mystery, but look into each specific subscription and figure out which one is right for you. Which do you think tends to have the best exclusives? Which box caters to your interests? These questions are important and will severely impact your enjoyment. Of course, luck also plays a big role, but that’s also part of the fun.
Google Drive will Shut Down in 2018
It seems like yesterday when Google introduced Google Drive 5 years ago. Back then, people didn’t have a good grasp about what Cloud Storage did. Nowadays, there are many Cloud Storage services that it’s only a matter of preference to choose one for your file keeping needs. However, what struck me as an oddity was how Google Drive will pull their Google Drive service come 2018.
That’s right, Google Drive will completely shut down on March 12, 2018. With the software no longer being supported on December 11, 2017. People will have several warnings about this, for now, so they will have plenty of chance to switch to the new version of Drive, Backup and Sync.
This new program is basically a combination of the features between Google Drive and Photos. It’s readily available now for Windows and OSX systems and will be the new host for the Cloud storage. Alternatively, users can get a hold of Drive File Stream, which will become available on September 26, 2017.
The core differences between DFS and BaS come when you compare how they help customers. As shown in the image below:
A day without Google Drive.
It seems like users will have their first experience without Drive today though. Because as of this morning, the service was down for many users who constantly used the GSuit app. According to the independent site Downdetector, more than 7,000 users are experiencing issues with the service. This has been going on since 10:04 AM EDT, but the number of reports has been lowering afterward. You can check the stats here.
It’s a shame to see Google Drive go. To be frank, it was my preferred Cloud Storage option besides MEGA. However, it’s not a huge inconvenience considering they are not shutting down a Cloud Storage service altogether. So we at least have that.
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